February 17 – Cafe Au Lait Day

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a beverage as the national food holiday; I suppose they considered January to be the month we needed the warm, alcoholic drinks to help ward away the cold. Little did they know February would be the real cold month of 2012! Although there’s no alcohol in a traditional cafe au lait, it is a deliciously hot drink, through and through. What makes it different from just regular coffee (which we Americans add milk and sugar to, but many European foodies would turn up their noses at) is that hot, or steamed, milk is added to the hot drip coffee (adding it to espresso would make it a cafe latte). This makes for a perfect piping hot drink to keep yourself warm this weekend!

For the real, authentic French experience of sipping a cafe au lait on a lazy Sunday morning, be sure to stop by Balthazar Bakery in SoHo. Their French pastries are top-notch, as well as their full Sunday brunch menu. But their special secret is the perfectly traditional cafe au lait, served French-style in a large sipping bowl. It’s the best way to celebrate this day (and get a redux of January 30 – Croissant Day – in the bag!) and one I’d definitely like to visit myself 🙂

Balthazar Bakery
80 Spring St (between Crosby St & Broadway)


“Breakfast is fantastic here: we like the USD 19 full English breakfast, or, when we just want a quick bite, a plain croissant or pain au chocolat and a café au lait.”–The Purple Passport

Some reviews from Yelp.com:

“There is always a line out of door, and nowhere to sit let alone stand, but none of that will matter the second that you bite into this exquisite indulgence filled with smooth frangipane (almond cream) who’s nuttyness compliments the layered pastry beautifully, with a hint of sweetness, which, paired with a cafe au lait, makes this the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.”–Melanie M.


If you’re looking for something with the same taste as a cafe au lait, but with quite a different temperature range than the hot coffee and hot milk, try out Griff’s Gelati in Duane Park. They made a creamy cafe au lait flavor of their gelato that is sure to please. They have all different kinds of unique flavors, like key lime pie and red velvet cake, and for only $3 a scoop, you may want to try something extra on top of your cafe au lait.

Griff’s Gelati
157 Duane St (between Broadway & Hudson St)

Some reviews from Yelp.com:

“Griff’s serves absolutely outstanding, ultra creamy, smooth, intense gelato of the highest quality. I’ve loved ALL the flavors I’ve tried: from Blueberry Cheesecake, to Fig White Balsamic, Peanut Butter Malt ball to Sesame Brittle (much like Turkish Halva), Bourbon Butter Pecan to Walnut Praline, Cafe Au Lait, Spearmint, Tiramisu… all of them delicious.”–Atif I.


Finally, here’s a spin on the cafe au lait that you definitely wouldn’t expect: the Cafe Au Lait doughnut from the aptly-named Dough. This Bed Stuy bakery boasts delicious and unusual doughnut flavors, including Blood Orange, Pumpkin, and Earl Grey. The Cafe Au Lait doughnut includes a rich coffee glaze, a milky sweet frosting, and a slight crunch to give it texture. The doughnut itself is light and sweet, a perfect combination with the glaze and frosting, and one that can go so awry with the doughnut frying process. One reviewer at Yelp says that once you hit Dough, you’ll never go back to Dunkin’ Donuts; and hopefully, with today’s guide, you certainly won’t be going there for Cafe Au Lait Day!

305 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn

Some reviews from Yelp.com:

“If you order the cafe au lait make sure you like coffee because the glaze has a very concentrated coffee flavor that may be overwhelming otherwise. The best part of both donuts for me was the dough part; each bite contained the right amount of light airy sweetness that made my mouth water for more.”–Piyali S.

“I had the nutella creamed filled and the cafe au lait doughnut. The quality of the doughnut itself is perfect – Not too heavy but a little chewy and not oily. The nutella isn’t 100% pure nutella which is good as it doesn’t overpower the doughnut itself. My favorite was the cafe au lait doughnut – they really capture the taste of cafe au lait in the glaze.”–Hong L.